Happy Birthday, E. B. White.

Strange to say, I learned grammar not from an English grammar but from Bennet’s Latin Grammar (I might even find the old text rattling around here somewhere), and I learned to take style seriously from E. B. White. When I sit down to write, I can still hear Professor Strunk admonishing Use the active voice or Never use a long word when a short one will do and E. B. is repeating the commands more gently and explaining them.

Here’s an appreciation of what makes White and The Elements os Style so important. Don’t miss the quote

True believers have always felt something more, an extra dimension that has likely been a fundamental source of the book’s success all along: As practical as it is for helping writers over common hurdles, The Elements of Style also embodies a worldview, a philosophy that, for some, is as appealing as anything either author ever managed to get down on paper. Elements of Style is a credo. And it is a book of promises — the promise that creative freedom is enabled, not hindered, by putting your faith in a few helpful rules; the promise that careful, clear thinking and writing can occasionally touch truth; the promise of depth in simplicity and beauty in plainness; and the promise that by turning away from artifice and ornamentation you will find your true voice.

Is there a handbook of speaking style that has influenced you strongly?


All right, maybe grammar’s not your thing, at least the traditional way. Brain Pickings points to an alternate approach

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